Kuala Lumpur: World No. 2 Lee Chong Wei, Olympic champions Lin Dan, Chen Long and former World No. 1 Son Wan Ho were high-profile casualties on day one of badminton’s Malaysia Masters on Wednesday, but the World No. 1 Viktor Axelsen survived.
The No. 2 seed Lee lost to Kenta Nishimoto of Japan 21-19, 18-21, 19-21 in a 78 minutes battle.
“I can accept the loss as I didn’t plan to play at this championship originally. I was on vacation after the Dubai Super Series Finals at the end of last year, then, I had spent time with my family and I didn’t participate in any badminton leagues held during that time,” said Lee.
“Previously, we kicked off the season through All England in Mach. This year, due to the changes in Badminton World Federation (BWF), we were required to participate in 12 tournaments or face a fine. I am sure a lot of players are still not at their 100% yet by playing in BWF tournaments in January,” added Lee.
And Lee was absolutely correct, the Rio Olympic champion Chen Long was sent packing by Anthony Sinisuka Ginting of Indonesia 17-21, 15-21 in 43 minutes in the first round.
“I disagreed with a decision by the line judge earlier in the game, but, overall, I was unhappy with my performance,” said Chen.
Two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan also suffered a first round exit as Ihsan Maulana Mustofa of Indonesia pulled off an upset to overcome Lin, 21-16, 18-21, 21-17, at Axiata Arena, KL Sports City in Malaysia.
Malaysia’s men’s singles independent player Daren Liew, meanwhile, ruthlessly brushed aside No. 4 seed Son Wan Ho 21-15, 21-13 to power into the second round.
Although World No. 1 Viktor Axelsen cruised through the first, the Dane had to dig deep and to work hard in order to beat 37-year-old Lee Hyun Il of Korea 18-21, 21-14, 21-5 in 46 minutes. Axelsen’s second round opponent will be India’s B. Sai Praneeth who beat qualifier Kantaphon Wangcharoen of Thailand.